The Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award
In 2013 the Sandford St Martin Trustees introduced new awards for individuals, programmes or organisations who have made outstanding contributions to broadcasting about religion, ethics or spirituality. Recipients of the Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Awards or Special Awards are chosen by the Trustees and receive their prizes at our annual Awards ceremony at Lambeth Palace.
2019 Trustees’ Award winner: Bishop Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church
American Bishop Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church was granted the 2019 Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award in recognition of the huge media impact generated by his sermon at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle which helped to bring a better understanding of religious belief and its modern relevance to a new audience.
In his dedication, Trevor Philips, the writer broadcaster and businessman said “Even in a year of fierce competition for TV eyeballs, there wasn’t much doubt about the winner in 2018. Globally, the Royal Wedding out-rated the World Cup final almost 2 to one… However as dominant as the leading actors were, even in the most majestic productions there is always room for the memorable cameo role. The definition of cameo is a small, engraving, usually on a gemstone – and on that day, Bishop Michael Curry whose sermon dwelt unashamedly on the power of love, gave one of the most breathtaking cameo roles ever seen on TV left an indelible inscription on the memory of the 2 billion or so who witnessed it.”
The Rt Rev Jan MacFarlane, Bishop of Repton and Chair of the Sandford St Martin Trust, said: “One of the indisputable broadcasting highlights of the 2018 royal wedding was Bishop Curry’s sermon. His inspirational words were broadcast to millions around the world and were instrumental in shining a spotlight on the central role faith plays in the wider social discourse, not least in the most significant moments of our lives.
“At the heart of his sermon, Bishop Curry spoke of love being the most important and powerful force for unity in the world – a message much needed when the social and political divisions in the UK and around the world are being so deeply felt.”
You can watch Bishop Curry’s video acceptance of the award here:
2018 Trustees’ Award winner: Neil MacGregor
Among the indisputable broadcasting highlights of recent years have been Living with the Gods and the History of the World in 100 Objects, Neil MacGregor’s flagship radio series for BBC Radio 4. MacGregor has never shied away from acknowledging the deep influence religion has played in the human story. Religion, he says, belongs with our most archaic and tenacious wishes. No society on Earth has lacked beliefs about where it has come from, or about its place in the natural or supernatural scheme of things. No society has doubted that there exists between us and eternal reality.”
MacGregor brings a depth of knowledge but also an inquisitive and probing mind to his subjects and it is for these reasons that he was chosen to receive the 2018 Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award.
Sandford St Martin Special 40th Anniversary Award: Blue Peter
Since its early days Blue Peter has been introducing young audiences to the wide world and fostered a sense of belonging and responsibility for its future. Through this sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes challenging but always original and entertaining programme, generations of children have had the opportunity to explore who they are and who they want to be. Its subjects have included pop culture, the natural world, history and science while also engaging with bigger questions about immigration, the environment, how things work and what makes a community. This is a vital service. It’s in recognition of Blue Peter’s 60 years of providing it and the huge contribution it has made to furthering our understanding of belief, moral and ethical issues that the Sandford St Martin Trust chose to mark their joint anniversary – 60 years for Blue Peter and 40 years for the Trust – with this special award.
2017 Trustees’ Award: The Moral Maze
Provocative and engaging, The Moral Maze has been examining the ethical issues behind the week’s news stories since 1990. Presented by respected journalist and broadcaster Michael Buerk since its inception, this BBC Radio 4 series calls upon an eclectic panel of regular contributors drawn from the worlds of religion, politics and journalism including Claire Fox, Giles Fraser, Anne McElvoy, Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips and Matthew Taylor. Previous panelists include Rabbi Hugo Gryn, Geoffrey Robertson, Michael Gove and David Starkey. Announcing the recipient of the Trustees’ Award, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, Lord Bishop of Leeds and the Trust’s Chair said: “We live in a complex world, and this programme takes these complexities seriously. It also refuses to collude with the notion that all arguments must be reduced to the simplistic or the slogan. Sometimes annoying, usually riveting, always worth the listen.”
2016 Trustees’ Award: Joan Bakewell
Joan Bakewell is a true icon of British broadcasting. When she made her television debut in the 1960s, she became the only female presenter of the BBC2 programme Late Night Line-Up. From 1988 to 2000, she presented Heart of the Matter, on BBC1, a programme in which she explored belief and ethics. Since then she has gone on to present the Radio 3 series Belief, and Radio 4’s Inside the Ethics Committee.
Sandford St Martin Trustee, Roger Bolton was her editor on Heart of the Matter for three yeas and said that she conducted her interviews with “cool precision, intelligent understanding and great sympathy for those caught up in difficult dilemmas”. Regarding her role as a Labour peer since 2011, he said she has “used her position in the House of Lords to ensure that its debates about ethics cut to the heart of the matter.”
Lady Bakewell said: ” I am enormously pleased to be given this award, which has a tremendous reputation. I think it matters all the more in today’s climate, because we need space where serious ideas can be reflected and discussed.”
In recognition of her outstanding commitment to religious and ethical broadcasting over six decades, the Sandford St Martin Trustees unnimously agreed that the 2016 Trustees’ Award should go to her.
Find out more about why Joan Bakewell thinks religious broadcasting matters here.
2015 Trustees’ Award: Lyse Doucet
2014 Sandford St Martin Personal Award: Melvyn Bragg
The broadcaster Melvyn Bragg received a Personal Award in 2013. Presenting the award, Roger Bolton, fellow broadcaster said was being recognised for “putting religion at the heart of human experience and exploring it in such a way that it has enriched the public discourse for decades.”
Bragg is one of the UK’s most respected broadcasters as well as being a top selling author and a Parliamentarian. He is probably best known as the presenter of The South Bank Show and Radio 4’s flagship morning discussion programme In Our Time. He also worked at ITV where he was an editor.
2014 Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award: Sir John Tavener
The English composer Sir John Tavener is widely regarded as one of Britain’s greatest modern composers. He achieved popularity that is rare in the classical world with choral works marked out by their pared-down beauty and intense spirituality. He claimed that much of his creativity sprang from his religious faith but he was never shy of exploring other religious traditions. His use of instruments such as the ram’s horns, nay flute and kaval saw him pushing the boundaries of his vision ever closer to the east and to eastern religions.
2013 Trustees’ Special Award: Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce for the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony
An estimated 900 million people around the world were mesmerised by the 2012 Summer Olympic Games’ opening ceremony. Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce the artistic showcase which utilised The Clash, Mary Poppins and a special appearance by the Queen to depict Britain’s “isles of wonder” was a hit with audiences. And religion, said Frank Cottrell Boyce, played a central role: “People would not have believed the day before that we would include three traditional Christian hymns” he said. “But Danny and I were both brought up in Catholic families and the Church was part of our childhood”.
2013 Sandford St Martin Personal Award: Jonathan Lord Sacks
The 2013 Sandford St Martin Personal Award went to the retiring Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks for his advocacy not only of the Jewish faith but of the significance of religion, since delivering the Reith Lectures for the BBC in 1990.